Where are you based and how did you first get into this line of work?
I’m based in Soho in a small production company called Rock Hound. I studied fashion at uni but never felt that it was the right path for me.
I made a film as part of my final project and even though it was super low-fi and I knew nothing about the process. I loved seeing my ideas come to life in the most literal way possible.
After graduation, I worked as a freelance stylist and set designer on shoots but I felt frustrated not being part of the bigger picture I’ve always felt such a strong connection to every stage of film-making, right from the idea development through to the grade, even down to the small details like titles. I honestly can say every stage excites me and is something I feel passionate about. I got into art directing because I guess I never thought that I could be a director, it felt like such an intimidating job. The first job I did was a title sequence for the BBC, on the lead up I was absolutely shitting it but as soon as I got on set I felt instantly calm, after that I realised how much I wanted it.
How did you get the Nike: Nike Tech Pack project?
I was actually approached by the agency who where pitching on Nike.
A few months previously, I’d done an off the cuff fashion job which was literally just myself and my DOP Joe. They had seen that and a few other bits I’d shot and contacted me about treating on Nike. Me and my producer James, went in for a meeting, found out all the details, then I submitted my treatment.NIKE_TREATMENT_V1
The brief was pretty open, it was to document three digital creatives projects as part of a Nike collab and show some of the new tech pack collection. In my treatment, I proposed ideas for locations, art direction, lighting, suggestions of possible shots and the route I would take the film to best convey the message. I love projects that allow you to approach a brief totally in your own style. It brings you closer to the work and means your shooting something that you really believe in.
What gear/cameras did you use and why?
Alexa mini, master prime lenses and sky panels.
Did you plan out the story structure from the beginning or did it come out in post?
The edit was always going to be really abstract and glitchy so we didn’t board the films. Although they were stylistic and fashion led, the films in essence where documentaries so I didn’t want to make anything too staged; I wanted to see how the artists behaved, what they felt comfortable doing on the day and above all, make them feel relaxed when they were discussing their disciplines.
Before the shoot, I met all three of the cast and got to know them better, we talked for ages about their backgrounds, what drives them and how they tackled the collab. These interviews shaped the scripts which helped form a structure for the films.
What do you do differently from other filmmakers?
I try not to compare myself to other film makers if anything, rather than trying to compete, I love to see how other people do things and feel inspired by the incredible amount of talent out there. I think it’s important to work in a way that’s true to you. My background is in fashion and set design so aesthetic is always really important to me, I get obsessed with attention to detail. If there’s not enough budget for wardrobe, I’ll bring in my own things or go charity shopping until I feel everything works. I think a lot of the time people think that things like that don’t matter, the colour of the phone or the label on the bottle, but I think that’s all so important. The way things look, how the sensitivity to aesthetic enrich the story and take you to a certain time or place. I’m always very hands on with the art direction, I did a stop frame job a while ago which was meant to be reminiscent of a 70’s TV show. I remember hand picking each individual bit of seaweed with the art department so that the palette and tone was spot on. I’m quite annoying.
If you had to go back and do it all again, how would you get a foothold in the business?
If I had the confidence I do now, I would have started to shoot things straight away.
Learnt how to use a camera or speak to someone who does and just make things. Ever since, I’ve been proactive with just doing, not talking about it but just getting up and doing, it’s paid off. Sometimes it feels like a big deal to put yourself out there but you just need to break through that barrier. It doesn’t matter about experience or knowledge, everyone learns as they go. I probably spent to much time thinking but not doing, because taking that leap is hard. Once you’ve done it though you realize how much is possible and it’s so liberating.
What’s the one secret tip, go-to trick that you use often that takes your work to the next level?
It’s a secret so I can’t say.
What has been the hardest part of doing what you do?
There’s an immense amount of pressure to deliver something that does justice to the client; the team of people that worked on it and of course, yourself.
It’s all on you, if it looks crap, it’s down to the director, if the performance isn’t right, the track sounds bad, if it’s too long or too short, it’s no one else’s fault but the directors’. No one cares about the in’s and the outs, the budget or the restraints, they look at the end result and that’s what you’re judged on. You’re only as good as your last job, and there’s no room for excuses. That’s why it’s so important to trust your instinct and push for your vision.
I’m still learning to take this advice myself. I’m always over conscious of not pissing people off or behaving like a dick, because I’ve worked with directors like that and it’s not good. Saying that, there’s no room for people pleasing, you have to trust your gut and be assertive, at the end of the day it’s your name on it.
What is currently the best part of doing what you do?
Everything. Seeing the seed of an idea grow into the final product. Being involved in every stage, watching it get better as you collaborate with each person who brings something new to the table. That’s one of the best parts, working with different talented people who inject their skill and personality to elevate the project. Being able to translate something that was in your head, a thought, an idea or a story and make it a reality that other people can experience, that’s pretty f***ing cool.
What are some of your favorite stories or web videos that you’ve gotten inspired by?
Stories about people? I heard a story about a man that bought the Kanye West domain name because he heard a sample and knew he would be huge. When that actually happened, naturally Kanye’s people approached him and asked to buy the domain. He said he’d only give it up if he could make a film with Kanye. Since then, he’s had a huge career directing some of the worlds biggest names in music. This unapologetic brazen approach is inspiring, not giving up on the good fight or being afraid to ask.
Web videos? There’s so much amazing stuff out there, something that really sticks with me is Tom Green’s The Heist for Oxfam about tax invasion. It uses masked robbers robbing a hospital as a metaphor for tax dodging companies who are essentially stripping developing countries of funds for vital services. According to Oxfam, a third of the amount would be enough to cover healthcare that could prevent the deaths of eight million mothers, babies and children. It’s cinematic, elegant and properly powerful.